Hearing loss is normally considered an older person’s issue – in fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of individuals over 75 copes with some type of hearing loss. But despite the fact that in younger people it’s totally preventable, research shows that they too are in danger of experiencing hearing loss.
In fact, 34% of the 479 freshmen who were studied across 4 high schools demonstrated symptoms of hearing loss. The cause? The idea is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the problem. And everyone’s at risk.
Why do people under 60 get hearing loss?
If other people can hear your music, it’s too loud and that’s a general rule for teenagers and everyone. If you listen to sounds louder than 85dB (around the volume of a vacuum cleaner) for extended time periods, your hearing can be damaged. The majority of mobile devices can go well above 105dB. Used in this way, 4 minutes is enough to cause damage.
It may seem as if everyone would know this but teenagers frequently have their headphones in for hours at a time. They’re playing games, watching footage, or listening to music during this time. And if the latest research is to be accepted, this time will only increase over the next several years. Studies show that smartphones and other screens trigger dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same response caused by addictive drugs. Kids’ hearing will suffer as it becomes more challenging to get them to put their screens down.
The risks of hearing loss in young people
Regardless of age, hearing loss obviously creates numerous obstacles. For younger individuals though, after school activities, sports, and job possibilities produce additional difficulties. Students with hearing loss face a particularly difficult time hearing and comprehending concepts. It also makes participating in sports much harder, since so much of sports requires listening to coaches and teammates giving instructions and calling plays. Young adults and teenagers joining the workforce can encounter unnecessary obstacles due to hearing loss.
Hearing loss can also cause social problems. Kids who have damaged hearing have a harder time socializing with peers, which frequently causes social and emotional issues that require therapy. People who suffer with hearing loss often feel isolated and experience mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Managing hearing loss often must go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, particularly during the important developmental stages experienced by kids and teenagers.
How young people can prevent hearing loss
Using earbuds or headphones for no more than 60 minutes per day and at a volume 60% of max or less (the 60/60 rule) is the first rule to adhere to. Even at 60%, if other people can still hear the sound, it needs to be turned down.
You may also want to ditch the earbuds and go with the older style over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds put directly into the ear can actually generate 6 to 9 extra decibels when compared to traditional headphones.
In general, though, do what you can to reduce your child’s exposure to loud sounds during the day. Try to make their home time free of headphone use because you can’t control what they’re doing when they’re not home. And you should get a hearing examination for your child if you believe they may already be suffering from hearing loss.